A Momentary Flow

Updating Worldviews one World at a time

Google X Confirms The Rumors: It Really Did Try To Design A Space Elevator

See on Scoop.it - Knowmads, Infocology of the future

Google X’s imagination is sky-high.

A working space elevator is still, sadly, not a reality. But sci-fi geeks may be excited to know that some of the most intelligent and imaginative minds on Earth have indeed looked into the logistics of building such a fanciful contraption. Rich DeVaul, head of Google X’s Rapid Evaluation team, has confirmed for the first time ever that Google’s super hush-hush R&D lab actually tried to design one.

"It would be a massive capital investment," he said in this month’s issue of Fast Company. But once this hypothetical machine was built, "it could take you from ground to orbit with a net of basically zero energy. It drives down the space-access costs, operationally, to being incredibly low."

Unfortunately, our current technological landscape has its limitations:

The team knew the cable would have to be exceptionally strong— “at least a hundred times stronger than the strongest steel that we have,” by ­[Google X researcher Dan Piponi]’s calculations. He found one material that could do this: carbon nanotubes. But no one has manufactured a perfectly formed carbon nanotube strand longer than a meter. And so elevators “were put in a deep freeze,” as [Google X researcher Mitch Heinrich] says, and the team decided to keep tabs on any advances in the carbon nanotube field.

Google X’s space elevator ambitions might be frozen, but they’re not dead. Google’s just waiting for the material and manufacturing world to catch up with its sky-high ideas.


See on fastcompany.com

Project Plans Brain-Control Exoskeleton Kickoff for the 2014 World Cup | MIT Technology Review

See on Scoop.it - Cyborg Lives

A Brazilian neuroscientist says brain-controlled robotics will let the paralyzed walk again.

In less than 60 days, Brazil will begin hosting soccer’s 2014 World Cup, even though workers are still hurrying to pour concrete at three unfinished stadiums. At a laboratory in São Paulo, a Duke University neuroscientist is in his own race with the World Cup clock. He is rushing to finish work on a mind-controlled exoskeleton that he says a paralyzed Brazilian volunteer will don, navigate across a soccer pitch using his or her thoughts, and use to make the ceremonial opening kick of the tournament on June 12.

The project, called Walk Again, is led by Miguel Nicolelis, a 53-year-old native of Brazil and one of the biggest names in neuroscience. If it goes as planned, the kick will be a highly public display of research into brain-machine interfaces, a technology that aims to help paralyzed people control machines with their thoughts and restore their ability to get around.

“It’s going to be like putting a man on the moon—it’s conquering a level of audacity and innovation that the people outside Brazil aren’t used to associating with Brazil,” Nicolelis has told audiences. The kick, he has said, “will inaugurate a new era of neuroscience, [that of] neuroengineering.”


See on technologyreview.com

It’s a beautiful theory, but more to the point, it’s how the world is: you and I are collections of, not just particles at particular positions at each instant, but of matrices, walking around, performing measurements, perceiving the world and ourselves. You may not want to be a bunch of matrices; I quite like the idea. But either way we have no choice: if we want to understand the physical world at the deepest level currently known to human beings, it has to be via quantum theory.

David Deutsch (via superfluidity)

Reblogged from superfluidity

s-c-i-guy:

Artificial blood ‘will be manufactured in factories’
It is the stuff of gothic science fiction: men in white coats in factories of blood and bones.

But the production of blood on an industrial scale could become a reality once a trial is conducted in which artificial blood made from human stem cells is tested in patients for the first time.


It is the latest breakthrough in scientists’ efforts to re-engineer the body, which have already resulted in the likes of 3d-printed bones and bionic limbs.


Marc Turner, the principal researcher in the £5 million programme funded by the Wellcome Trust, told The Telegraph that his team had made red blood cells fit for clinical transfusion.


Prof Turner has devised a technique to culture red blood cells from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells – cells that have been taken from humans and ‘rewound’ into stem cells. Biochemical conditions similar to those in the human body are then recreated to induce the iPS cells to mature into red blood cells – of the rare universal blood type O.
“Although similar research has been conducted elsewhere, this is the first time anybody has manufactured blood to the appropriate quality and safety standards for transfusion into a human being,” said Prof Turner.
There are plans in place for the trial to be concluded by late 2016 or early 2017, he said. It will most likely involve the treatment of three patients with Thalassaemia, a blood disorder requiring regular transfusions. The behaviour of the manufactured blood cells will then be monitored.
“The cells will be safe,” he said, adding that there are processes whereby cells can be removed.
The technique highlights the prospect of a limitless supply of manufactured type-O blood, free of disease and compatible with all patients.
“Although blood banks are well-stocked in the UK and transfusion has been largely safe since the Hepatitis B and HIV infections of the 1970s and 1980s, many parts of the world still have problems with transfusing blood,” said Prof Turner.
However, scaling up the process to meet demand will be a challenge, as Prof Turner’s laboratory conditions are not replicable on an industrial scale. “A single unit of blood contains a trillion red blood cells. There are 2 million units of blood transfused in the UK each year,” he said.
Currently, it costs approximately £120 to transfuse a single unit of blood. If Prof Turner’s technique is scaled up efficiently, it could substantially reduce costs.
Dr Ted Bianco, Director of Technology Transfer at the Wellcome Trust, said: “One should not underestimate the challenge of translating the science into routine procedures for the clinic. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the challenge Professor Turner and colleagues have set out to address, which is to replace the human blood donor as the source of supply for life-saving transfusions.”
For the moment, factories of blood remain the stuff of fiction.
source

s-c-i-guy:

Artificial blood ‘will be manufactured in factories’

It is the stuff of gothic science fiction: men in white coats in factories of blood and bones.

But the production of blood on an industrial scale could become a reality once a trial is conducted in which artificial blood made from human stem cells is tested in patients for the first time.

It is the latest breakthrough in scientists’ efforts to re-engineer the body, which have already resulted in the likes of 3d-printed bones and bionic limbs.

Marc Turner, the principal researcher in the £5 million programme funded by the Wellcome Trust, told The Telegraph that his team had made red blood cells fit for clinical transfusion.

Prof Turner has devised a technique to culture red blood cells from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells – cells that have been taken from humans and ‘rewound’ into stem cells. Biochemical conditions similar to those in the human body are then recreated to induce the iPS cells to mature into red blood cells – of the rare universal blood type O.

“Although similar research has been conducted elsewhere, this is the first time anybody has manufactured blood to the appropriate quality and safety standards for transfusion into a human being,” said Prof Turner.

There are plans in place for the trial to be concluded by late 2016 or early 2017, he said. It will most likely involve the treatment of three patients with Thalassaemia, a blood disorder requiring regular transfusions. The behaviour of the manufactured blood cells will then be monitored.

“The cells will be safe,” he said, adding that there are processes whereby cells can be removed.

The technique highlights the prospect of a limitless supply of manufactured type-O blood, free of disease and compatible with all patients.

“Although blood banks are well-stocked in the UK and transfusion has been largely safe since the Hepatitis B and HIV infections of the 1970s and 1980s, many parts of the world still have problems with transfusing blood,” said Prof Turner.

However, scaling up the process to meet demand will be a challenge, as Prof Turner’s laboratory conditions are not replicable on an industrial scale. “A single unit of blood contains a trillion red blood cells. There are 2 million units of blood transfused in the UK each year,” he said.

Currently, it costs approximately £120 to transfuse a single unit of blood. If Prof Turner’s technique is scaled up efficiently, it could substantially reduce costs.

Dr Ted Bianco, Director of Technology Transfer at the Wellcome Trust, said: “One should not underestimate the challenge of translating the science into routine procedures for the clinic. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the challenge Professor Turner and colleagues have set out to address, which is to replace the human blood donor as the source of supply for life-saving transfusions.”

For the moment, factories of blood remain the stuff of fiction.

source

(via thenewenlightenmentage)

It’s a hard pill to swallow, but if you’re over 24 years of age you’ve already reached your peak in terms of your cognitive motor performance, according to a new Simon Fraser University study. SFU’s Joe Thompson, a psychology doctoral student, associate professor Mark Blair, Thompson’s thesis supervisor, and Andrew Henrey, a statistics and actuarial science doctoral student, deliver the news in a just-published PLOS ONE Journal paper. In one of the first social science experiments to rest on big data, the trio investigates when we start to experience an age-related decline in our cognitive motor skills and how we compensate for that.

"After around 24 years of age, players show slowing in a measure of cognitive speed that is known to be important for performance," explains Thompson, the lead author of the study, which is his thesis. "This cognitive performance decline is present even at higher levels of skill."

But there’s a silver lining in this earlier-than-expected slippery slope into old age. “Our research tells a new story about human development,” says Thompson.

"Older players, though slower, seem to compensate by employing simpler strategies and using the game’s interface more efficiently than younger players, enabling them to retain their skill, despite cognitive motor-speed loss."

For example, older players more readily use short cut and sophisticated command keys to compensate for declining speed in executing real time decisions.

The findings, says Thompson, suggest “that our cognitive-motor capacities are not stable across our adulthood, but are constantly in flux, and that our day-to-day performance is a result of the constant interplay between change and adaptation.”

We’re over the hill at 24, study says — ScienceDaily (via myserendipities)

(via myserendipities)

Reblogged from my serendipities

There is something for which Newton — or better to say not Newton alone, but modern science in general — can still be made responsible: it is splitting of our world in two. I have been saying that modern science broke down the barriers that separated the heavens and the earth, and that it united and unified the universe. And that is true. But, as I have said, too, it did this by substituting for our world of quality and sense perception, the world in which we live, and love, and die, another world — the world of quantity, or reified geometry, a world in which, though there is place for everything, there is no place for man. Thus the world of science — the real world — became estranged and utterly divorced from the world of life, which science has been unable to explain — not even to explain away by calling it “subjective”.
True, these worlds are everyday — and even more and more — connected by praxis. Yet for theory they are divided by an abyss.
Two worlds: this means two truths. Or no truth at all.
This is the tragedy of the modern mind which “solved the riddle of the universe,” but only to replace it by another riddle: the riddle of itself.

Newtonian Studies (1965)

Alexandre Koyré - Wikiquote